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November 4, 2013- By Steven E. Greer
The Battery Park City subcommittee of the CB1 met at Asphalt Green tonight. The main topic was the planned closure of the Stuyvesant Community center (which for some reason suddenly has the attention of Sheldon Silver and his soldier Bob Townley). Paul Goldstein from Silver’s office began with a history of how the agreement between the BPCA and Department of Education came to be, which gives the community access to the gyms and pools of the high school (see video for the lengthy discussion).
Essentially, in order to allow Stuyvesant to be relocated to Battery Park City in the late 80’s, the DOE had to agree to allow the BPCA to operate a “community center”. Now, with the construction of the Asphalt Green community center nearby, the BPCA no longer deems it necessary to keep the Stuyvesant center open.
Unbeknownst to anyone on the CB1, or staff of Margaret Chin and Sheldon Silver, and exclusively reported by BatteryPark.TV, the BPC Parks Conservancy collects a “Civic Facilities Maintenance Fee”, in addition to PILOT charges, and that revenue is specifically meant to be applied for projects like the Stuyvesant community center. Therefore, it is not an option for the BPCA’s Dennis Mehiel to simply stop funding the center. The people of BPC pay for it already.
In 2011, the Civic Facilities Maintenance Fee generated more than $5,000,000 for the BPCA. A line-item accounting of how those monies were spent is not readily available. The cost to the BPCA’s Parks Conservancy to operate the Stuyvesant community center was only $203,000 in 2012.
The decision to gut the Stuyvesant community center is consistent with the Mehiel administration, which has been cutting back on other services that benefit the community. Meanwhile, the Mehiel administration has made a record number of new hires, 18 so far, with all of the new employees being brought in at far higher salaries than their counterparts who were fired. Also, the Mehiel administration is spending lavishly on contractors and “studies”, to the tune of millions each, all made possible by a budget surplus of more than $200 Million a year, and $800 Million raised in new bonds last month.
Yet the $200K community center must be closed, according to the BPCA’s VP of Operations, Anne Fenton, who got a $45,000 raise and earns at least $145,000.